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A Contribution to The Study of Global Competition for Talent: the determinants of student mobility and its consequences for the inter- nationalization of the labor market


  • Marcel Gérard

    (Université catholique de Louvain (UCL))

  • Mélanie Voin

    (GPlus Europe)


In a globalized economy the skills of the workforce are a key determinant of the competitiveness of a country. One of the goals of Higher Education is precisely to develop the students’ skills in order to allow them to match the increasing demand for highly qualified workers while it is simultaneously the best period of life to acquire multicultural skills. For this reason, the European Union has fostered student mobility through several programs: the Erasmus program and the Bologna process are the best known among them. Although student mobility is a growing phenomenon, publications and research on the subject remain relatively scarce. This paper aims to contribute to that literature through an empirical analysis which exploits a questionnaire submitted to university alumni and focuses on two research questions: what drives studies abroad and what drives expatriation of graduates. Our empirical analysis first shows that exposure to international experiences before entering tertiary education and family background are the main factors influencing student mobility. A second conclusion is that studying abroad increases the international mobility on the labor market. Both confirm previous studies. Moreover, by making a distinction between participating in the Erasmus program and in other exchange programs or internships abroad, we found that the Erasmus program and the other programs or internships have an equivalent influence on the international mobility on the labor market: they increase by 9 to 12.5 percentage points a student’s chance to be mobile on the international labor market. This result shows the legitimacy of the Erasmus program, but it also reveals the important impact of other forms of experience abroad. It provides support for policy makers to encourage mobility programs, in order to foster integration of the European labor market.

Suggested Citation

  • Marcel Gérard & Mélanie Voin, 2013. "A Contribution to The Study of Global Competition for Talent: the determinants of student mobility and its consequences for the inter- nationalization of the labor market," Bruges European Economic Policy Briefings 27, European Economic Studies Department, College of Europe.
  • Handle: RePEc:coe:wpbeep:27

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. A. Rodriguez-Pose & Riccardo Crescenzi, 2006. "R&D, spillovers, innovatoin systems and the genesis of regional growth in Europe," Departmental Working Papers of Economics - University 'Roma Tre' 0067, Department of Economics - University Roma Tre.
    2. Lydia Mechtenberg & Roland Strausz, 2008. "The Bologna process: how student mobility affects multi-cultural skills and educational quality," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 15(2), pages 109-130, April.
    3. Robert J. Barro, 1991. "Economic Growth in a Cross Section of Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 407-443.
    4. Eric A. Hanushek & Dongwook Kim, 1995. "Schooling, Labor Force Quality, and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 5399, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Paolo Guerrieri & Bernardo Maggi & Valentina Meliciani & Pier Carlo Padoan, 2005. "Technology Diffusion, Services, and Endogenous Growth in Europe. Is the Lisbon Strategy Still Alive?," Bruges European Economic Research Papers 2, European Economic Studies Department, College of Europe.
    6. Beine, Michel & Docquier, Frederic & Rapoport, Hillel, 2001. "Brain drain and economic growth: theory and evidence," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 275-289, February.
    7. Luis Rubalcaba, 2007. "Services in European Policies," Bruges European Economic Policy Briefings 16, European Economic Studies Department, College of Europe.
    8. A. D. Roy, 1951. "Some Thoughts On The Distribution Of Earnings," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(2), pages 135-146.
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    More about this item


    higher education; mobility of students; Erasmus; mobility of high skilled workers;

    JEL classification:

    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism


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